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Sarah's Journey on being a Physio, Business Owner and Mum

Updated: Mar 7

International Women’s Day, a day to reflect on how lucky I feel to be a woman. To have the joy of being a daughter, sister, wife, friend, and Mum. With the support of these people, I have also had a varied career and now own and run Featherstone Physio Pilates, my literal happy place.

I believe the world needs all kinds of woman – full-time Mum’s, part-time Mum’s, full-time career Mum’s and those who choose, or don’t get to choose, to not have kids and add to and invest in the communities of our worlds. I consider myself lucky to have been all these women, except the latter.

I chose to have children a little later and got to experience travelling and working overseas with my husband – just us learning a new culture and language, travelling South and Central America, finding my way as a Physio and woman overseas without my family or close friends by my side, no reliable mail, way before internet and Wi-Fi existed. This was a very fun time but in hindsight I realise it allowed me to embrace change, understand myself and how I respond to different circumstances and build resilience and self-reliance. It totally made me grateful to be Australian and embrace all that Perth is and offers on our return – fresh air, beaches, old friends, new friends, family and choice. I still feel this and am grateful for this.

For as long as I remember I loved movement, from long family beach walks in childhood to dancing and athletics through teenage hood that gave me my first experience and joy of movement over the outcome. That’s what I remember – how I felt in my body when I moved over the outcome of performing or winning. Becoming a Physio was an obvious transition with my interest and intrigue of the body. I thrived at uni being surrounded by likeminded people and my first job was at the major rehab hospital in Perth. A long way from the dance Physio I’d seen myself as when entering uni but a pivotal one I believe. This experience was unexpectedly incredible being able to work with severely injured people, those whose lives and the lives of their loved ones changed in an instant as a result. I worked on the stroke, head injury, spinal and amputee units and was mentored by many amazing professionals, most of them Women Senior Physio's who were incredible clinicians but also mentors and nurturers. The courage of the clients, the depth of care and compassion of humanity, the gift of doing/achieving simple things with a client that were life changing or simply just appreciated. I feel it sits in my being and I am grateful for this experience that came unexpectedly with this first job.

I worked in public health for over 10 years, and it consolidated and expanded my knowledge, taught me the importance of collaborative care and exposed me to lots of personalities and observing how different people react and respond. During this time I worked with colleagues who became friends and developed a wide network within the health system, finding a new respect and appreciation of how good the health system is in Australia. I also supervised Physio students and came to value teaching, mentoring and giving back to my profession.

I moved to private practise to explore clinical Pilates and that was a great move for me. I still use much of what I learnt from my hospital background but private practice allowed me to use and develop my skillset differently, gain lifestyle flexibility and also choose the colleagues and clients I was interested in working with. For me, this was clinicians invested in their whole client, continued learning and collaborative care. For students and graduate Physio's that are keen to learn and evolve and clients invested in helping themselves, with guidance to get better to participate actively in all facets of life. Goals well beyond me just fixing their pain. All of us evolving together and supporting each other. This is the Featherstone community feel.

Transitioning to private practice Physio when I had children meant I had the flexibility to choose my hours to support my role as a Mum in this busy and ever-changing period. I had unwavering support from my husband (he was the one who recognised I was likely to be happier as a working Mum!) and devoted and invested grandparents who encouraged but also allowed me to make that decision more easily. I chose a boss who had similar values around family and Physio. It wasn’t always a smooth ride, but I never really expected it would be. Some days I loved it, some days I just got it done, some days I was tired and stressed but in each day there was always a smile, a thank you, a change for the better in someone or something, an appreciation for turning up, and a growing awareness of being a woman with many roles.

I delved into studying Physio Pilates because I was fascinated by it, it made so much sense from my rehab and dance background. I had also sustained a severe back injury and Physio Pilates based movement was a major part of my 3-year recovery. Experiencing severe pain as a client rather than a Physio was another pivotal experience for me. I already knew how important clinical knowledge was but learnt quickly that communication, connection, touch, and guidance to the next bit of hope, with reality, were paramount.

Physio is an amazing, challenging career. You can find a fit to be a working Mum and still be available, invested, and flexible through the different periods of their lives. I like that my children understand what I do, I like that my children see me beyond a mother, I like that what I do is tangible to them, important to them and they see the effect of what I do on some of their friends, my friends, their sporting and school communities. My family have been alongside me on the 8 plus year evolution of Featherstone Physio Pilates. They have literally helped me build it, so they are invested it too. They have experienced the transition of the idea into reality and the sweat, tears, enthusiasm, joy, grit and my love for it. They’ve been with me, beside me and encouraging of me.

Featherstone started with my love of science and movement connected to breath and how crucial that was in terms of managing ongoing pain. I started with a small idea that was doable, and it slowly gained traction with a big response from the local community. I had some amazing Physios, all of them women, who were keen to come on board and Featherstone evolved gradually with a lot of hard work, but a lot of joy in and from that hard work to what it is today. The ongoing support of family and friends and an innate belief in myself means that I get to do what I enjoy and love every day. I get to interact and work alongside amazing colleagues and clients that are now friends in an environment that is calm, nurturing and an essence of myself.

I’m glad that I didn’t know where Featherstone was headed, some of the hurdles, what it would become because I might have thought I couldn’t do it, that it would be too hard, take too much. I just jumped in, kept going, had support, asked for support and I have found myself a business owner, a boss, a mentor, a working Mum… and I absolutely love it and can’t imagine not doing it.

I wanted to share 3 quotes/mantras that resonate with me and influence my way in the world.

  • Surround yourself with people that lift you up…be that person for others.

  • Small things accumulate for big impact.

  • Persistency and consistency add up.

These are paths I tread with myself, my kids, my family, my friends, my colleagues, and our clients. I’m human so there are times I slip, but just encourage myself back to the intentional path. You don’t always have to do big, amazing things, the little things are often the most important, and with the persistency and consistency to keep doing those little things can change your world and the worlds of others.

Happy International Women's Day




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